At this year’s EuroMold, which will take place from the 25th to the 28th of November 2014 at the Exhibition Centre Frankfurt/Germany, companies from different industrial production sectors will present collaborative projects that perceptibly demonstrate the added value of synergies for the partners involved. The development of a new antenna carrier for an earth observation satellite will be one of the highlights at the trade fair, which proves the success of such cooperation and shows by example how design and development exploit the true potential of additive manufacturing when exploring new ways.
As part of the pilot project, RUAG, Altair and EOS cooperated in the development of a new antenna section for the Sentinel 1 satellite and developed a revised mounting that was optimised for production in an industrial 3D printing process. The objective was to make the new aluminium component much lighter while keeping its strength, and to make the best use possible of the design freedom that the additive manufacturing process offers. As a result, the finished component is almost only half the weight of the previous component and at the same time considerably more rigid. In space navigation, weight saving in particular is a decisive factor, because the lighter a satellite, the more cost effective it can be launched into space.
The antenna mount built by RUAG Space, Europe’s leading supplier of aerospace products, was revised by Altair, a provider of simulation technologies and optimised for the production in an industrial 3D printing process. As part of the project, EOS, technology and market leader in industrial 3D printing, produced the aluminium components on their new generation EOS M 400 machines. With around 40 cm in length, the antenna mount is one of the longest ever metal components manufactured in the powder bed process that is on its way into space. The new mount is currently undergoing rigorous tests to qualify it for use in space. These tests should be finished by the end of the year.
Altair used OptiStruct optimisation software for the new development and optimisation of the antenna; for the design, the solidThinking Evolve tool was used. The surface modelling tool allowed fast implementation. This meant the design freeze could take place within four weeks after the project started. The design has been optimised together with EOS with the additive manufacturing process in mind and manufactured using laser sintering. In this additive manufacturing process, a powder is applied in layers and compounded in the desired shape by being melted with a laser beam in the right places. Due to the technological symbiosis of topology optimisation and additive manufacturing, unprecedented performance characteristics in terms of weight, rigidity and durability could be achieved.
3D printing technology has enormous potential in the field of aerospace technology, so it will probably be possible in the future to create entire satellite structures using 3D printing. Assemblies, such as cable harnesses, reflectors or heating pipes, which are still manufactured separately, can then be integrated directly into the structural elements.
The joint project will be presented on the 26th of November at EuroMold 2014 as part of the CAE Forum at the symposium on “Additive Manufacturing Design & Engineering”. The central theme is how the full potential of additive manufacturing with a paradigm shift in design and development can be unlocked. The symposium will look at the entire process chain from all angles (OEM, manufacturing and research), give insight into current research and development projects and provide direct exchange with experts.
The symposium is free, but you are kindly asked to register. For agenda and information, please visit http://www.altair.de/